Every game in every sport can be a game of inches. Monday night’s Valley Oak League boys soccer battle between visiting Sierra and Manteca at Guss Schmiedt Field was no different.
Midway through the second half with the score tied, Audie Garza lined up for the Timberwolves to attempt a penalty kick. Buffaloes goal keeper Daniel Garcia guessed correctly and dove to his left, only for the ball to be just out of reach. Garza’s toe proved to be the difference in a 2-1 Sierra win.
Not even a minute into the game, Garza blasted a direct kick that bounced off of Garcia for Gerrit DeRuyter to knock in.
“On the cross I tried to find my players,” Garza said. “I hit the goalkeeper and then he (DeRuyter) got the rebound and we got the score.
“On the penalty, I always focus in. The goalkeeper and I were staring eye-to-eye, so we were really focused in, so I just paid attention to where I wanted to kick it. I was confident where I was going to place it, and he almost got to it.”
The Timberwolves (4-0 VOL, 10-1-1 overall) got the win with barely enough players to field a team.
“We were missing a lot of players,” Sierra coach Joe Pires said. “We had 13 suited up and we were very short, so to get that goal at the beginning of the game gave us a little bit of a spark because we knew it was going to be an uphill battle.
“We had players playing in totally different positions than they normally do and we had to make do with what we had. Neither team played their best game, but I am satisfied to get out of here with a victory the way we were.”
DeRuyter was clearly in the right place at the right time.
“The keeper knocked it down,” DeRuyter said. “I went for the second ball and tapped it in.”
Marco Velasquez, filling in for Manteca head coach Isidoro Garcia, pointed to mental mistakes made by the Buffaloes (1-3, 2-3-1).
“We had a couple of mental breakdowns, a couple of mistakes, and they took advantage of it,” Velasquez said. “We came back and the guys were trying their best, but mental mistakes cost us in this crosstown rivalry.”
The Timberwolves posted 11 shots on goal with Sierra goalie Anthony Ayala making four saves. Manteca had four shots on goal and Garcia notched four saves.
On Wednesday the Timberwolves host Central Catholic and The Buffaloes travel to East Union on Friday with both games starting on 6:45 p.m.
Sierra 4, Manteca 1
Hugo Reyes tallied two goals for the Timberwolves.
Sierra’s Anthony Napoles and Alex Sanchez added a goal apiece.
Cameron Navarrette got a late goal for the Buffaloes to avert the shutout.